A Wednesday night of delight ebbed away at the Wankhede Stadium as the Men in Blue, savouring individual excellence and team solidity, got past New Zealand in the World Cup semifinal. Virat Kohli’s record-breaking 50th ODI ton, Shreyas Iyer’s century, and Mohammed Shami’s seven for 57, all combined wonderfully as India defeated Kane Williamson’s men by 70 runs.
Chasing India’s 397 for four, New Zealand finished with 327 in 48.5 overs. Having lost to the same rival in the 2019 World Cup semifinal at Manchester, Rohit Sharma’s men turned the tables and will now march into Sunday’s final at Ahmedabad, awaiting the victor of the Australia-South Africa semifinal.
New Zealand started brightly through Devon Conway and Rachin Ravindra. Conway, however, nibbled at Shami’s first delivery and saw K.L. Rahul effect a diving catch.
AS IT HAPPENED: IND vs NZ Highlights, ICC World Cup 2023 Semifinal
Skipper Williamson, tight defence and watchful eyes, drove a four off Shami, the latter in turn scalped Ravindra, drawing an edge.
Williamson and Daryl Mitchell then stitched a defiant 181-run third-wicket partnership. The latter was all swagger while thumping a six off Shami. Williamson had a close shave when Rahul accidentally disturbed the stumps, and there was no conclusive evidence about whether the second bail too was dislodged before the direct throw disturbed the timber with Williamson’s bat being on the line.
Later Shami dropped Williamson on 52, but Mitchell was in terrific form, lashing at Jasprit Bumrah, and soon registered his ton. Williamson (69), though, succumbed to Shami, who also accounted for Tom Latham. The double blow was too much to bear, and New Zealand wilted despite Mitchell’s glorious 134 (119b, 9x4, 7x6).
In the afternoon, Rohit won the toss, elected to bat and set a rollicking tempo. Whipping a four off Trent Boult, Rohit drove the next past mid-off as the first over yielded 10. His partner Shubman Gill then tucked into Tim Southee before Rohit unleashed a bouquet of drives and pulls as Boult and Southee felt the heat of the Indian skipper’s bat.
Spinner Mitchell Santner was hoisted into the stands, and Rohit (47) seemed set for more when he mistimed a stroke against Southee, and Williamson judged the skier to a nicety.
As new man Kohli bided his time, Gill shifted gears, pulling the seamers and dancing down to the spinners. However, at 79, he winced in pain, clutched his thighs and returned to the pavilion.
Kohli kept pocketing his runs while Shreyas played the aggressor. He lofted Rachin Ravindra for six, a template he later followed against Southee and Boult.
A pulled four off Lockie Ferguson hinted at a change in approach from Kohli, and soon Boult and Southee too found the batter at his immaculate best.
As Kohli neared his 50th ODI ton, the venue rang out with the ‘Kohli, Kohli’ chants. A two off Ferguson cleared the decks for a fresh milestone. Soon in the death overs, Kohli (117, 113b, 9x4, 2x6), Shreyas (105, 70b, 4x4, 8x6), after getting to his ton, and Suryakumar Yadav all fell while trying to hustle, and India finished with a score well beyond the rival’s grasp.
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